I have been told by my mother all of my life that I am like a magpie. In common with this particular bird, I do love sparkly things. She told me that she noticed this phenomenon when I began to steal her diamond engagement ring when I was about six years of age.
I love this piece of jewellery, it is simply beautiful. It is a unique art deco designed ring and it was purchased in Dublin sometime in the 1950’s. I have never seen another one that resembles it.
I stole that ring at every opportunity when I was a small child having decided that no other ring my mother owned was quite as pretty. I definitely should have been a jewellery designer, goldsmith, gemologist or something similar, such has been my devotion to sparkly stuff throughout my life.
My mother’s dressing table held an assortment of things that were very attractive to a small child. There were crystal bowls that held hair clips, safety pins, thimbles and tie pins.
There was also space for trinket boxes, powder puffs, perfume and rings. She had a small crystal spike that she used to place her rings upon, and it looked like a skyscraper of colored gems to a small six year old girl who loved sparkly things.
I was a very discerning thief though; it was her engagement ring that I loved, despite the array of other precious rings that made up this tower of jewels.
I clearly remember sitting on the pavement outside our house one day before my communion (so I was almost seven years of age). I was wearing pink shorts with zippy pockets. I had the ring on my thumb and was holding it up to the sunlight watching the sparkles radiate from the diamonds when my mother called me in for my dinner. She must have seen me sneaking the ring into my pocket for she did a methodical search of them when I came in.
When she found her treasured ring she went berserk! Despite the punishment of several slaps, this episode didn’t stop me from subsequently “robbing” her ring for many more years to come.
How I never lost it is a miracle.
Searching me became habitual and I was subject to many thorough ‘shake downs’ over the years. It did go missing a couple of times, but that was honestly down to my mother misplacing it somewhere in the house. I came under a lot of pressure those times and was always grateful that the ring turned up again.
This ring has been at the center of so many discussions (and rows with laughter) between my mother and my sisters over the years. We discussed at length what would happen to it in the event of her death. Mam wanted to leave it to her eldest daughter who had no attachment to it whatsoever, yet undaunted she wrote her will a million years ago, and to my horror bequeathed the ring to my sister!
While I argued that I loved it the most, my mother wouldn’t give way. She was following the age old tradition of leaving precious stuff to the eldest girl child. I pleaded and begged to no avail, and even though my older sister kindly whispered to me that she would give it to me on the quiet, I could not be placated. I wanted my mother to leave it to me and not get it by default.
My mother, her sister Betty, and my younger sister Annie all loved sparkly stuff. When we gathered at family dinners in my house, these women would regularly sit at the table after the Irish Coffees were served, and strip off all their precious trinkets so that I could clean them. I have an array of potions, lotions, mixtures and cloths that are particularly good at cleaning fine sparkly things like diamonds and other precious stones.
We had such laughs over the years as I took their tarnished and unkempt jewellery and made it new again. Every woman friend that I have has allowed me to clean their jewellery – particularly their rings. It’s a pity that I haven’t had the same diligence when it comes to cleaning my house- but then houses don’t sparkle like rings do when they have been cleaned!
Times change, as do people, and eventually (with no pressure) my mother realised that her precious ring was better coming to someone who genuinely loved it (me), who would always appreciate it (me), and who would keep it in the family and be the guardian of it forever (me).
She subsequently changed her will and upon her recent death I became the custodian of her beautiful ring. The ring that I used to thief and steal as a small child now rests legitimately upon my finger.
I may have coveted it all my life and I do love it, but as I hold it up to the sunshine and watch it sparkle I wish that it was somehow back on my mother’s hand.
Destiny can be about realising that what we love most are people and the things that make them happy. Without the people their things are just things…